Although he had never been here before, the place felt familiar, almost like home. He looked about, admiring the beauty found in the stone statues and the elegance of a single drop of dew that flowed down a rose petal. Looking at the large collection of books, he sighed, wishing he had the time to read them. But he wasn’t even sure if he was here to stay or merely passing through. Much depended on Elrond’s decision.
“Can I be of some assistance?” Glorfindel had been on his way to collect some scrolls when he came across a stranger standing in Elrond’s study -- a place usually off limits to visitors. “Do you need directions?”
Glorfindel shivered as a chill swept down his spine. /That voice… That tone…/ Why was his friend acting in this odd way? “Elrond?”
“I am not Elrond,” the dark-haired Elf said, keeping his back toward the Elda. “But I would like to speak with him.”
“Your voice sounds just like his,” said Glorfindel thoughtfully. Looking closer, he quickly realized that this stranger was of the same height and build as Elrond, and his hair was raven as well. All it lacked was the butterfly hair clip Elrond usually wore. “May I inquire what your business is here tonight?” Why had the servants allowed this stranger to enter Elrond’s private study?
“My business here tonight…” He paused to gather his thoughts. “My business is with Elrond Half-Elven.”
Glorfindel, alert and growing increasingly suspicious, advanced on the stranger. “In that case, give me your name and I will inquire if Lord Elrond can see you.”
“My name…” He slowly turned around, realizing he couldn’t put off this confrontation much longer, as Glorfindel would find out the truth eventually.
Glorfindel sucked in his breath in shock. Elrond’s mirror image stood before him. Granted, this Elf had fewer lines of worry etched onto his brow, but he could easily pass for the half-Elf.
“They used to call me Elros before I made my decision to belong to the race of Man.” His calm, gray eyes searched Glorfindel’s, easily reading the stunned disbelief in them. “Maybe now you could inquire if Elrond is willing to see me?”
“I do not understand…” Glorfindel’s voice trailed off. “Elros died many centuries ago.” The resemblance this stranger bore Elrond was uncanny and greatly worried Glorfindel, who for some reason didn’t believe this was Elros incarnate. “Who are you and what is the nature of your business here?”
Elros gave Glorfindel a look filled with understanding. “I am more than willing to explain myself, and past events, but I would prefer to do it only once. So if you could contact Elrond now, I would be grateful.”
“You cannot be Elros!” And yet the expression in the calm eyes, the well-hidden nervous twitch near the corner of the lips, the regal posture, and the arched eyebrow seemed so incredibly familiar. “Elrond? Are you playing games with me?” But why would the half-Elf do that? “’Tis you, is it not? Elrond?”
“I assure you that I am Elros; now kindly fetch my twin for I need to speak with him.” Like Elrond, his temper occasionally got the better of him, but this time he managed to control it. “Now.”
Glorfindel swallowed hard. His mouth had gone dry and he nodded instinctively. “I will fetch Elrond.” He was convinced that he wouldn’t find Elrond in his rooms because the half-Elf was standing in front of him. What had caused his friend to lose his sanity?
“Go and fetch him for me.” Elros felt relieved when Glorfindel finally got into motion, almost running out of the study. Now that he was alone again, he surrendered to his nervousness by placing his hands on the back of a chair, clawing at the wood. He appeared calm and controlled, but the truth was that he had no idea how Elrond would react upon seeing him.
Erestor was on his way back to the library, carrying several heavy books, when Glorfindel crashed into him, knocking the books out of his hands and causing him to lose his balance. He fell, the back of his head hit the sharp edge of a side table and he landed hard on the floor with a sickening snap sounding from his neck and lower back, causing a burning pain to radiate through his body from those areas. Aiya, that hurt!
Glorfindel stared at Erestor in shock. He hadn’t been looking where he was going and as a result he had knocked Erestor off his feet. “I apologize, Erestor, but I am in a hurry.” Reckoning that the advisor could take care of himself, he continued to march toward Elrond’s private chambers, but hearing a pain-filled whimper, he stopped dead in his tracks.
Had that whimper really originated from Erestor’s lips or had he just imagined it? Turning around, he studied the advisor, who was awkwardly trying to sit up, supporting his head with his hands – and failing miserably. “Are you all right?” He felt torn, realizing he should be informing Elrond, but at the same time he couldn’t leave Erestor if the Elf was in pain, and it definitely seemed that way.
“I am not all right!” scowled Erestor, rolling onto his side as his neck and back still vibrated with spiraling pain. Carefully probing the injury with his fingers, he found that warm blood was flowing down his neck, originating from the back of his head where he had hit the table. “But I can manage! There is no need to pause and help me.”
Glorfindel winced, hearing the sarcastic tone to Erestor’s voice. It was true that they barely got along and managed civilized politeness at best, but now he felt he had to offer Erestor his help. “Let me help you back to your feet.” He extended his hand and nearly pulled it away again when Erestor glared, sending dangerous daggers at him.
“Be on your way, Glorfindel, and leave me alone.”
No one could quite explain why Elrond’s captain and chief councilor were always at odds with each other. They fought verbally on a constant basis and an icy atmosphere descended onto the room whenever both were present. Glorfindel had grown accustomed to that hostility and had long ago stopped wondering what had caused them to behave in that manner in the first place. “I…” Glorfindel looked down the corridor. He was so close to Elrond’s chambers right now!
“Go on! Do not mind m…e…” His voice hitched on the last word and Erestor’s eyes widened as pain traveled down his spine from his neck. The discomfort would fade within the next few days, as his Elven healing ability would take care of the injury, but right now he was in agony. Warm blood was sliding down his neck and he felt grateful that his dark hair hid it from view.
Glorfindel sighed. He would help Erestor and then quickly alert Elrond so he could return and assist Erestor to his quarters or the Healing House. A chair stood close by and Glorfindel quickly made up his mind. “We will do this my way.”
Erestor held his breath, shocked to feel Glorfindel’s arms go around his shoulders, pulling him to his feet. “Nooooo!” More pain erupted from his neck and back, and he pleadingly stared at the Elda, hoping Glorfindel would let go of him.
Glorfindel’s features contorted, realizing he was adding to Erestor’s pain. “Let us try a different approach, then.” Ignoring Erestor’s futile attempts at swatting his hands away, he placed one hand beneath the advisor’s knees and the other below his shoulders, lifting him slowly.
Erestor bit his bottom lip as the pain remained constant, but bearable. He sighed, relieved, when Glorfindel finally placed him on the chair. And now what?
“Wait here. I will be right back,” said Glorfindel softly, truly regretting accidentally hurting the dark-haired Elf.
Erestor gave the blond a frustrated look. “And where am I supposed to go? I can hardly move!”
“I am sorry,” said Glorfindel softly, gathering the books and placing them next to the chair. “Just wait here for me. I won’t be long.”
Frustrated, Erestor watched Glorfindel sprint down the corridor. “Elbereth, why did this have to happen to me? He won’t be back. He will get caught up with something and forget about me.” Erestor sighed, realizing he had to deal with this situation without Glorfindel’s help. Hopefully a servant would pass by shortly.
“Elrond? Elrond!” Glorfindel was panting softly by the time he reached the half-Elf’s rooms. He didn’t really expect to find Elrond in here as the Peredhel was still in his study. There simply couldn’t be two of them – not any more!
“Glorfindel? What is amiss?” Elrond rose from the chair he had been sitting on, reading, and advanced on his friend. “You look like you have seen a ghost.”
Glorfindel stared at the half-Elf in disbelief. Elrond was here; did that mean it really was Elros in the study? But how? /The Valar allowed me to return, why not Elros? But Elros was not Elven. His fëa should not have traveled to the Halls of Mandos in the first place./ “I have seen a ghost indeed,” said Glorfindel, finally regaining his wits. “I did not want to believe it at first, but now that you are here, I know I saw Elros. He is in your study, waiting for you.” Elrond would think him mad, but he had felt the same way when happening upon Elros. “Go now!”
Elrond arched an eyebrow. “Have you drunk too much wine?” Why was Glorfindel bringing up old pains? He had lost Elros long ago!
“No, I am speaking the truth! He really is in the study and he wants to talk to you. You have to go there, now.” Pain was reflected in Elrond’s eyes and Glorfindel wished he could take it away, but if this really was Elros, Elrond had to face his twin.
“Glorfindel,” said Elrond, soothingly resting a hand on the captain’s shoulder. “Elros died many centuries ago. I do not know what is causing you to act in this way, but we should find out. Maybe we should go the Healing House where I can examine you.” Worried, he searched Glorfindel’s blue eyes.
“I know he died, but he is back! I did not want to believe it either at first, but I returned from the Halls of Waiting, so why shouldn’t Elros?”
“Because my twin chose not to belong to the Firstborn. His soul could not have traveled to the Halls of Mandos.” Elrond began to steer Glorfindel toward the doorway. “Come with me to the Healing House. Maybe you will calm down there.”
“I know I am acting oddly, but I am telling you the truth! Elros is in your study! Now get going! Don’t keep him waiting!” Glorfindel took charge, pushing Elrond toward another exit, which would also take the half-Elf to the study, but it would keep Elrond from happening upon an injured chief advisor on his way. Having to explain that one as well would only make things worse. “Go now!”
“Glorfindel, I worry about you.” Elrond studied his friend’s eyes. “Why are you making this up?” The half-Elf wasn’t giving up yet. Maybe if he calmed Glorfindel down, his friend would confide in him.
“He really is in the study!” repeated Glorfindel, growing impatient. “Humor me and go to your study! If he is not there and I am hallucinating you can tell me, but you are going there now!”
Elrond realized it was best not to argue with his friend, though his worries for Glorfindel increased. Glorfindel had never acted this irrationally before. “Fine, I will go to my study, but it will be empty. Why don’t you come with me to convince yourself that no one is there?”
”I cannot do that.” Glorfindel’s brow furrowed. “I had a little accident on my way over here.” He still continued to push the half-Elf into the corridor.
“Accident?” What was this all about? Elrond was tempted to order Glorfindel to accompany him to the Healing House right now, but the blond seemed determined to take him to his study. Before he knew it, Elrond was standing in front of the beautifully carved door that gave access to his study.
“Now go talk to him.” Glorfindel nodded encouragingly. “I am not hallucinating.” He pushed down the door handle and dragged the Peredhel inside with him.
Elrond suddenly grabbed Glorfindel’s wrist, determined to show Glorfindel that he was hallucinating after all. “See? There is no one here…” His voice trailed off, seeing a dark-haired Elf standing in front of the fireplace, his back toward them. His hold on Glorfindel’s wrist loosened and the Elda used that moment to make his escape. Elrond let him go, wondering what this stranger was doing in his study. “My study is off limits to guests.”
Elros turned around slowly and then met his twin’s eyes. “Even to me, gwenneth?”
Erestor did his utmost to ignore the pain, but a whimper still escaped his lips. He had always managed to stay away from any grave injuries in his long life, but that had changed once Glorfindel had joined Elrond’s household. The blond was a walking menace, as far as he was concerned. When there was some sort of trouble, he could count on Glorfindel being at the source of it.
“What do I do now?” He had tried pushing himself to his feet, but paralysis was slowly setting in. He could hardly move his neck, and his legs and back also refused to cooperate. His injury would get worse before it would get better. And the fact that he was sprawled on this chair – rather uncomfortably – wasn’t helping either.
Normally, these corridors were swarming with Elves, but now they were deserted. Why did these things always happen to him? In the end, he realized that he had only one option left; to wait for Glorfindel to return. /And what if he does not come back? What if he has forgotten about me? Why would he remember me? I am only the cranky advisor, making his life difficult because I insist he attends Elrond’s council, and…/
“Erestor! I am sorry that it took me so long, but Elrond was… uncooperative.” Glorfindel came running around the corner, concentrating on the injured Elf. “Are you feeling any better?”
Erestor glowered at him. “If I were, I would not still be lying here!” Acting cross with Glorfindel had long since become second nature to him. It was easier to act infuriated than charmed. He had to emotionally distance himself from the Elda, knowing Glorfindel didn’t feel the same way about him. He had realized that a long time ago, hence the hostility between them: it served to cover up his attraction. And he could always count on Glorfindel to get angry with him in turn. But then again, even when the Elda was cross with him, it did mean he was getting *some* attention. He would always take the negative attention over none at all.
“I should take you to the Healing House,” mumbled Glorfindel thoughtfully.
“No, I refuse to go there. If you have to take me anywhere, take me to my rooms.” Erestor didn’t want any of the healers fussing over him. “I just need to rest so my body can recuperate from taking this fall.”
“Are you certain?” Glorfindel cocked his head and his eyes narrowed. “Can you move at all?”
Erestor gnashed his teeth and slightly moved his legs. “Of course I can! Now help me back to my rooms and go harass someone else. You’ve already caused enough problems for me.”
Glorfindel’s expression grew shadowed. “I didn’t do it on purpose,” he said in a child-like tone. Taking a step toward Erestor, he gently pushed his arms beneath the advisor’s body, lifting him.
Erestor bit his bottom lip, but couldn’t stop a pained whimper from fleeing his lips. He could tell that the Elda was trying to be careful with him, but he still hurt.
Glorfindel also realized that his charge was in pain, but he couldn’t put him down again. What Erestor needed was a competent healer, a warm bed and lots of rest; things, which he wouldn’t get lying sprawled on a chair in a drafty corridor. “Can you put your arm around my neck?”
Erestor mumbled something unintelligible, but managed to comply. Now that he had a firm hold on Glorfindel, he was slightly more comfortable in the other Elf’s arms. Oh, what he wouldn’t give for this to be a romantic encounter instead!
Glorfindel made his way to Erestor’s quarters. “Can you push down the door handle? I do not have to seem any hands free.” If it hadn’t been for the pained expression on Erestor’s face, he might have found this funny. /I am carrying him over the threshold./ Chuckling mentally, he wondered about the advisor. /I doubt anyone will ever carry him over the threshold in *that* way. Our chief councilor is not one for marriage. I cannot seriously think of a single Elf who would dare courting him./
Erestor pushed down the door handle and bit down the pain that swept through his lower back. Normally, he would never allow Glorfindel inside his rooms, but he really didn’t have much of a choice.
Glorfindel was pleasantly surprised when he stepped into Erestor’s rooms. He had expected them to be sparsely furnished and chilly -- much like their inhabitant – but he found them warm and luxurious instead. The fireplace had already been lit and oil lamps adequately illuminated the bedroom. Holding his breath involuntarily, Glorfindel studied the exquisite tapestries, beautifully woven in bright colors, which decorated the room. Several bookshelves made from dark oak were piled with scrolls and books. Splendid wooden carvings hung on a wall and the detail of them amazed him. Who had carved these Elves and animals? The big and comfortable four-poster bed standing next to the fireplace with the covers already turned down caught Glorfindel’s attention next.
Erestor, growing impatient now that Glorfindel seemed absorbed in studying his quarters, tugged at a golden tress, unable to reach something else due to his compromising position. “Put me down!”
Glorfindel shook himself from his musings and advanced on the bed. Silk sheets, he noticed, and big, fluffy pillows. Not what he had expected at all. Concentrating on his charge and his task at hand, he slowly lowered Erestor onto the bed. “Your rooms are… different from what I had thought they would be.” He cringed at seeing the hurt – and knowing – expression in Erestor’s dark eyes.
“You expected them to be as cold and chilling as I am?” Erestor wanted to be furious with the Elda, but lacked the strength. He wanted to roll onto his other side so he would face away from Glorfindel and curl up, but he couldn’t move much, not when this terrible pain tormented his back. “You brought me to my rooms. You can leave now.” He started to shiver and tried to reach for the warm blankets, but found they were out of his reach.
But Glorfindel had noticed. “Let me help.” He pulled the covers up and tucked them around Erestor’s form. If looks could kill, he would be dead now, but he tried to ignore the venomous look in those dark eyes. “I am not certain I should leave you alone. You can hardly move and—“
Erestor cut him short. “I will manage.”
Glorfindel, realizing Erestor was determined to dismiss him, slowly made his way over to the side table. He filled a glass with water and placed it on the nightstand, easily within Erestor’s reach. “Are you certain you want me to leave?”
“I am certain. Now kindly leave my rooms.” He had never wanted Glorfindel to see his quarters in the first place.
Deciding arguing wouldn’t get him anywhere, Glorfindel nodded. “I will leave you then and I offer you my apologies again. I was in a hurry and not looking where I was going.”
Erestor’s left hand turned into a fist beneath the covers. Why couldn’t Glorfindel just let him be?
Glorfindel knew better than to voice his objections, determined to check on Erestor during the night when the dark-haired Elf wouldn’t notice his presence. He wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway, knowing Erestor was in pain and alone in his rooms. “I will be on my way then.” He had to find out how Elrond had handled finding Elros in his study, providing the stranger really was the long dead twin. Looking over his shoulder before closing the door behind him, Glorfindel saw hints of agony on Erestor’s brow. “Maybe I should stay?”
“No, leave me.” Erestor’s tone was clipped and controlled, wishing Glorfindel would finally close the door behind him, so he could stop pretending he was fine when in reality he was in severe pain.
“As you wish,” said Glorfindel. /I don’t care if you want to be left alone. I will be back to check on you tonight./ When he closed the door behind him, he felt guilty and upset, surprised that he was worried about the chief councilor, whose presence he barely managed to tolerate most of the time. /But it was my fault. I ran into him./ Burdened by the knowledge that he had caused this accident – and Erestor’s pain – he reluctantly headed for Elrond’s study. He wanted to be there in case his friend needed his support.
Now that Glorfindel was finally gone, Erestor’s eyes widened with pain and he released a series of tormented whimpers. The best thing he could do was to move as little as possible and allow his body to heal itself.
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